Overwatered arborvitae are easy to spot as they may have yellow or brown colors in the leaves, root rot, and susceptibility to fungal infections. Edema, wilting, and wet leaves are the other common signs of overwatering arborvitae.

Overwatered Arborvitae Trees

Overwatering may arise due to poor soil drainage, pest infestations, and failure to follow a watering schedule. A quick read of this article will help you to revive your overwatered arborvitae.

Why Is Arborvitae Overwatered?

Some of the most common causes of overwatering Arborvitae are poor soil drainage, watering without checking the soil’s moisture levels, and fewer drainage holes on the pots. Overwatering may even result from not following correct watering schedules, in addition to utilizing certain pest control methods.

– Poor Soil Drainage

Overwatering is most likely to occur if your arborvitae’s plant soil is not well-draining. If the soil has poor drainage, the roots of your arborvitae will continuously sit in water, thereby creating an overwatering problem. When the roots are saturated with water, they are likely to rot and will not be able to take the necessary nutrients from the soil.

Having poor drainage, and soggy roots result, thereby causing root rot and other fungal diseases, and it would harm the plant. Overall, you must remember that if there is poor soil drainage, water is likely to accumulate, thereby causing overwatering.

Once the roots are damaged from the soil’s poor drainage, it becomes difficult for the plant to get water and nutrients properly, thereby leading to wilting and browning of your arborvitae leaves. In this case, the browning of the leaves commonly occurs at the tips of the leaves.


– Excessive Watering

It is important to keep moist soil when it comes to growing the arborvitae tree. However, although this tree can tolerate moist soil as compared to other evergreens, overly wet soil should be avoided because it tends to make the plant ‘drown.’ If you fail to follow a watering schedule, overwatering is more likely to happen.

Basically, you would have in mind that the plant soil needs to be moist and kept within its humid range; however, what keepers would do is place too much water and the result will be harmful to the plant. The plant would wilt and become brown. 

Why is Arborvitae Dying

Overwatering could be the reason why your plant might be wilting. This is because the roots might have been damaged by root rot so even after giving your plant a drink, it doesn’t show signs of revival. In extreme cases, the stems of your arborvitae may start to rot too so they may become brown in the process.

– Dealing With Pest Infestations

Whenever there are plants, pest infestations are likely to occur. Consider a situation where your arborvitae has been infested by spider mites or any other pests.

It is important to know that you may want to wash off the pests using water, but as you will be solving the pest problem, you will be creating an overwatering one. The reason is that the overwatering issue even gets worse when you have to do several washings in order to get rid of the pests.

– Excess Humidity 

When you expose your plant to freezing weather and harsh wind in winter, the leaves are prone to turning brown in a process called winter burn in addition, as there is high humidity, and you would water it, the plant will eventually get overwatered.

The browning of the arborvitae tree shows that your tree may be dying because its roots may have become frozen, a situation that interferes with nutrient uptake, and this is due to the excess water. If the freezing weather continues, the roots can be affected, resulting in arborvitae dying from bottom up.

How to Save an Overwatered Arborvitae?

To have an overwatered Arborvitae you must stop watering the plant till the soil is dry, loosen and aerate the soil. In addition, remember that you must improve the drainage of the water, start properly watering, and adopt a watering schedule, and adjust the irrigation during winter time.

– Stop Watering the Plant Until the Soil is Dry

It is crucial to immediately stop watering your arborvitae plant if you want to save it from overwatering. Excess water comes with negative effects such as making it difficult for your plant to breathe and ultimately survive.

Therefore, temporarily stop watering it so that the soil loses excess moisture. Depending on how much excess water the plant has been exposed to, you can allow your plant soil to dry for between seven and twenty-one days.

As you allow your plant soil to dry up, make sure that you keep checking the amount of moisture with each passing day. You can count on testing with your index finger or even a moisture meter to let you know if the soil is dry enough for watering again.

Fixes for Overwatered Arborvitae

Please note that the moisture meter is more accurate. Once the moisture meter reads ‘dry’ you will now be able to water your plant again.

– Consider Loosening and Aerating Your Soil

To increase the supply of nutrients and oxygen to your tree, it is better for you to loosen and aerate your plant soil. You may have noticed that the soil of overwatered arborvitae is very compact, such that there is little or no space for adequate amounts of oxygen to be supplied to the roots, and it will ensure the plant’s revival.

However, when you aerate the soil, it will dry out at a much faster rate, and it also helps in creating space for the efficient flow of oxygen to the roots of your arborvitae. To easily aerate and loosen the soil, you can turn it over with a pitchfork.

– Improve Your Drainage

If your soil drainage is poor, you are more likely to be in a position to deal with an overwatered arborvitae tree. Your plant will retain adequate moisture if the soil is well-draining. To make a well-draining potting mix, you can mix sterilized loam soil, sphagnum peat moss, coarse sand, and vermiculture or perlite in equal amounts.

Another way for improving the drainage system for your plant is by making sure that its point has enough drainage holes. These holes will allow the excess water to escape the pot, thereby doing away with the possibility of having waterlogged conditions in the pot.


– Proper Watering

When you want to water arborvitae plants, you should do it thoroughly and deeply. It is advisable to do deep soaks so that water reaches the roots. Please note that new arborvitaes require more water and care as compared to the ones that are already established.

If you have huge arborvitae trees, make sure that they get around 37.85 liters or ten gallons of water for every inch of the tree’s diameter. It is important to keep a constantly moist but not soggy environment for your arborvitae to thrive, and this is the most important aspect.

As your arborvitae tree grows and becomes established, it will become fairly drought-tolerant. This means that it would not be necessary to water your tree as often as you were doing when it was younger. 

In case the weather is hot, ensure that you water your arborvitae more often so that the moisture content of the soil is maintained and you will not end up with an underwatered arborvitae. You may reduce your watering as the weather becomes cooler.

Please note that for you to successfully soak your arborvitae, you will need to use a hose. By taking note of your watering process, you will eventually know how long to water arborvitae with hose.

Remember, to see if you have provided your arborvitae with enough water, check whether or not the soil is moist at a depth of five inches. You should take note of how often to water arborvitae in clay soil so that you prevent a scenario where the roots get rotten.

– Schedule The Watering 

You may easily set up a schedule that is inspired by the plant’s needs will allow you to provide enough water for your plant from the beginning up until the tree matures.

It is more likely that your arborvitae requires plentiful watering at the beginning, but the amounts tend to decrease as the tree gets established.

To solve this issue it is important that you check whether the soil is waterlogged or dry. If your arborvitae tree is overwatered, the soil will be wet or soaked in water. However, if it needs watering, the soil will be dry and has a pale appearance.

– Watering in Winter

You can avoid overwatering your tree in winter by watering it on warmer days. A warmer day in winter is characterized by temperatures that are above freezing ones for a period of twenty-four hours prior to and after watering. 

Guide for Overwatered Arborvitae

When in winter, you should also prevent dehydration, protect the roots of your tree, and always monitor your plant in extreme weather conditions. You could use a layer of mulch to surround the roots of your arborvitae such that it covers a radius of about three feet from the trunk and six inches deep.


What Are the Signs of Overwatered Arborvitae?

The first thing in saving your arborvitae is confirming that it’s faced with a problem of overwatering. There are other conditions that might show some of the signs and symptoms that are similar to those of overwatering. 

The arborvitae leaves may lose their emerald green color, turning brown or yellow. Usually, an overwatered arborvitae tree can turn brown on its leaves, especially on the exterior and younger parts of the plant. 

Another sign to show that your plant has been exposed to excess moisture is leaf dieback, which may be evident on several parts of your tree, like the tip of the foliage.

You should also know that by simply looking at your plant around the roots, you will notice highly moist or saturated soil if your plant is overwatered.

Can overwatered brown Arborvitae leaves be saved?

Overwatered brown Arborvitae leaves can potentially be saved by adjusting watering practices, ensuring proper drainage, and allowing the soil to dry out.

Will overwatered Arborvitae branches grow back?

Overwatered Arborvitae branches may regrow if the roots are still healthy. It is important to correct watering habits and provide appropriate care.


By now, you probably understand what an overwatered arborvitae tree is like and how you can be able to save it.

Let’s summarize the go-to points to easily allow you in assisting your overwatered Arborvitae.

  • To curb the effects of overwatering on your arborvitae, you should discontinue watering for approximately seven to twenty-one days, depending on how overwatered the tree was.
  • Always ensure that there is good drainage for your arborvitae to thrive.
  • Loosening and aerating your soil will help with the provision of nutrients and oxygen to your plant, in addition to aiding better water drainage.
  • Instead of washing off plant pests with running water, consider other pest control methods like pesticides to prevent overwatering your arborvitae plant.
  • If your arborvitae has been exposed to overwatering, make sure that you allow the potting soil to totally dry up before watering again.

This article has done a thorough job of providing the necessary troubleshooting tools for reviving your overwatered arborvitae. Use these nuggets and enjoy your exquisite evergreen arborvitae tree!

5/5 - (20 votes)